Sorenstam and Pepper pull away from the field

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Annika Sorenstam found the perfect cure for a bad attitude on Saturday - make a lot of putts, then walk off the course with the lead.

Annika Sorenstam found the perfect cure for a bad attitude on Saturday - make a lot of putts, then walk off the course with the lead.

Still steaming over a bad finish to her second round, Sorenstam made five birdies on the back nine for a 4-under 68 that gave her a one-stroke lead over Dottie Pepper in the season-ending Arch Wireless Championship.

She took the outright lead with a 20-foot birdie putt at the 18th to get to 9-under 207. One day earlier, she three-putted from 10 feet on the final hole and was upset.

"I needed a day like this to forget about it," Sorenstam said. "My goal is to have the same attitude tomorrow. Of course, it's easier when the putts go in."

She could have her hands full Sunday with Pepper, who had a 69 despite a double bogey at No. 9 because of a drive that was only two yards away from being perfect. Otherwise, she putted for birdie on every hole.

"You play three days to get into the hunt, and that's what has happened," Pepper said. "A cleaner round tomorrow, and I'll be fine."

Grace Park chipped in twice on the final five holes - one of them for eagle - for a 70 that put her at 210.

Sorenstam and Pepper started Saturday tied for the lead, along with Leta Lindley and Meg Mallon. Lindley had to scramble for a 72 and was tied with Lorie Kane (71) and Rachel Hetherington (68) at 211. Mallon missed too many greens on the wrong side for a 75 and dropped out of contention.

Laura Davies also fell back, thanks to one hole.

Tied for the lead at 7 under, her drive at the 17th came to rest against a tree and she could only advance it playing left-handed. She came up short of the green, then flew the green with a wedge and walked off with a triple bogey.

The frustration was evident at the 18th, as Davies stared at the giant scoreboard with her arms crossed, looked down and slowly shook her head. Asked if she was still confident of her chances because of how she played 17 holes, Davies replied, "Not particularly."

"When things like that happen, they tend to finish you off," she said. Davies had a 71 and was five strokes off the lead.

Sorenstam could have been done, too, especially after the verbal bashing she gave herself. Three-putt bogeys on two of the final three holes Friday left her so angry that she called former U.S. Open champion Dave Stockton for advice.

He asked for her score and what was leading the tournament - 5 under in both cases.

"He said, 'Good!' That changed my attitude a little," the Swede said.

What also helped was her patience. With four players tied for the lead at the start of a mild, slightly breezy day on the Legends Course at LPGA International, it would have been easy for Sorenstam to start to press when the birdies didn't fall.

A bogey at the ninth left her two strokes behind, and she asked her caddie if the round was ever going to turn in her favor.

It didn't take long. She hit a 9-iron over the marsh within 3 feet on the next hole and was off and running. Birdie putts of 18 feet followed on the next two holes, and Sorenstam completed a solid round with a 10-foot birdie putt at the 16th and her 8-iron for 20 feet on the last.

She needed them all to keep pace with, and finally pass, Pepper.

Pepper had a perfect pace on her putts throughout the round, and cashed in on her opportunities. The only disappointment was No. 9, a difficult hole that bends sharply to the left and goes over a 100-yard area of wetlands before the green.

Her ball in deep rough, Pepper decided to punch a wedge back to the fairway. Her third shot hit about 4 feet below the hole and spun back into deep rough. All she could do was advance it to the fringe and take double bogey.

"The mistake I made was not getting it (the third shot) to the hole," she said.

Pepper, who had a back injury for most of the year, is trying not to let the season go by without a victory. She will have 18 holes to make up one stroke against Sorenstam, with whom she has clashed in the Solheim Cup.

Scores after the third round of the $1 million Arch Wireless Championship, on the par-72 (36-36), 6,497-yard LPGA International Legends course:

Annika Sorenstam 68-71-68-207 Dottie Pepper 68-71-69-208 Grace Park 69-71-70-210 Rachel Hetherington 72-71-68-211 Lorie Kane 67-73-71-211 Leta Lindley 68-71-72-211 Charlotta Sorenstam 70-73-69-212 Laura Davies 70-71-71-212 Kelli Kuehne 70-73-70-213 Meg Mallon 67-72-75-214 Catriona Matthew 71-73-71-215 Michele Redman 71-71-73-215 Brandie Burton 69-73-73-215 Rosie Jones 76-70-70-216 Kelly Robbins 73-72-71-216 Juli Inkster 78-66-72-216 Karrie Webb 75-71-71-217 Nancy Scranton 73-72-72-217 Betsy King 73-72-72-217 Sophie Gustafson 69-76-72-217 Michelle McGann 72-71-74-217 Dorothy Delasin 71-75-72-218 Beth Daniel 72-76-71-219 Sherri Steinhauer 74-71-74-219 Janice Moodie 71-71-77-219 Wendy Doolan 76-71-74-221 Se Ri Pak 75-73-74-222 Becky Iverson 74-74-76-224 Carin Koch 77-74-75-226 Pat Hurst 72-76-78-226

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